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Tenaris attacks workers’ rights in Colombia

Tenaris TuboCaribe is continuing its efforts to weaken the trade union during the current round of collective bargaining. It recently dismissed Walberto Marrugo, Jairo del Rio and Jorge Buenos as part of its attempt to break the union.

Walberto Marrugo and Jairo del Rio are the president and vice-president of Sindicato de Trabajadores de Tubos del Caribe (SINTRATUCAR), the union of Tenaris workers in Colombia. Tenaris TuboCaribe dismissed both of them on 6 December, after 20 days of negotiations. The company refused to negotiate a new agreement and the union is studying its options in terms of how to proceed.

“We denounce to national and international public opinion Tenaris-TuboCaribe’s violation of the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The company says it will not negotiate until the union is dissolved,” said the union in an official communique.

With the support of other organizations, SINTRATUCAR held a series of protests and a mass meeting of members at the factory gates on 17 December. The meeting called on all workers throughout the world to increase their pressure on the company by joining the Facebook campaign.

On 19 December, it urged all the company’s employees to make a video illustrating Tenaris’ union busting activities and to demand the reinstatement of the dismissed workers.

The situation is extremely serious because the workers run the risk of losing rights they won by struggles in which international solidarity played a part.

The reality of workers in Colombia reflects what is happening to the union of Tenaris workers in Guatemala. In that country, the Tenaris Ternium group is refusing to negotiate and is engaged in a full-frontal attack on the union, intimidating workers and dismissing trade union leaders.

In September 2017, IndustriALL Global Union lodged a complaint against multinational steel producer Ternium with the National Contact Point of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for refusing to recognize and negotiate with a trade union at is production plants in Guatemala.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL’s general secretary said,

“The unions belonging to the Tenaris Ternium Workers’ World Council are shocked by the company’s treatment of unions in Guatemala and Colombia as Ternium and Tenaris generally have normal relations with trade unions at their plants in other countries.

The committee is calling on unions in other countries to join support and solidarity initiatives.”

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